Cesare Pavese

Alter-Ego

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From morning till evening he saw the tattoo
on his silky chest: a russet woman,
lying concealed in the field of hair. Beneath there was
sometimes chaos, she leapt up suddenly.
The day passed in cursing and silence.
If the woman were no tattoo but
clung alive to his hairy chest, he'd
cry out more loudly in the little cell.

Wide-eyed, he lay silently stretched on the bed.
A deep sealike sigh swelled
the big solid bones in his body: he lay
as on a boat-deck. He rested heavily on the bed
like someone who on waking might jump up.
His body, salted with spray, poured out
sweat full of sunshine. The little cell
was not big enough for a single one of his glances.
His hands showed he was thinking of the woman.

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Cesare Pavese